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"Self-Portrait," 2020. Digital video. 2 min. 16 sec.
"Self-Portrait," 2020. Digital video. 2 min. 16 sec.
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Shadrak Musafiri
Photo/Media, Journalism

I document the experiences of minorities and immigrants, emphasizing how they are affected by the American systems of oppression. In my work, I examine people’s identities in society and the elements that affect their perspectives and experiences. I see myself as a stranger stepping into a new world every time I record, write or photograph a person. My own identity and how it is altered over time is also revisited each time I interview someone.

My work allows me to narrate the lives and tell the stories of others through different mediums, allowing for a new perception and understanding of their experience. My documentations aim to understand the adaptation process that immigrants and minorities face and how they choose which components of their culture and identity to keep compared to ones they have to discard.

For this project, I decided to turn the lens away from others and focus on myself and my personal experience. This reflective process has allowed me to realize the role different family members play in my personality. The family photo compilation is accompanied with a traditional song that we sing when we meet and pray with one another every week. Creating this video allowed me to merge a self portrait with images of my family to highlight the importance they’ve played in shaping my identity.

My name is Shadrak Musafiri and I’m a senior double majoring in Art: Photo/Media and Communication: Journalism. Over the course of my time at UW, I’ve tailored my work to focus on issues of identity, transition and immigration. I’ve developed a passion for these themes because they’ve all been significant components throughout my journey. As a Congolese immigrant from a family of 13, I’ve struggled with issues of identity and faced difficulties transitioning in South Africa and America. My journey with such a large family has allowed me to discover different perspectives on some of the difficulties that immigrants face in the countries we’ve lived in. Although we immigrate as a family unit, each person’s experience is unique and deserves to be understood. Most of my work has been centered around understanding each family member and how our transitions have impacted us individually. I document their stories through digital media, using photography and videography as a tool to help the viewer understand each family member’s experience from their own perspective.

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